Electronics and Semiconductors

Video: All driver-assist systems can be tricked to work without drivers

13 August 2021

As carmakers push to make self-driving capabilities a reality, there remains much work to secure the safety of the passengers ahead.

Case in point, today’s driver assistance systems, technology built into vehicles to help with driving functions, can be tricked into thinking a driver is still in place to monitor the road. Car and Driver did a deep dive into testing 17 vehicle systems to find a work around in the technology.

Lane keeping, or centering assistance, uses cameras to detect lane markings and applies nudges to the steering to keep a vehicle between lanes. Adaptive cruise control uses radar to track vehicles ahead and adjust car speed to the flow of traffic. Both technologies allow drivers to feel that they have a helping hand while on the road, however, both cannot be trusted without a driver in place.

Car and Driver tested 17 vehicles with these technologies in place and found different reactions to the vehicles when the driver was sensed to no longer be in the vehicle.

The tests

The first test involved unbuckling the driver seat belt.

Some vehicles, such as the Subaru, immediately canceled all driver aids. Others such as Tesla and Cadillac, started braking until coming to a complete stop. But most of the cars tested, did nothing at all.

The second test involved taking hands off the steering wheel to see how long the system would respond before shutting down.

In this case, most shut down in 20 or more seconds, but some didn’t quit until 91 seconds.

The third test involved tricking the vehicle into thinking hands were on the wheel by putting a weight on the steering wheel.

Most vehicles were tricked, but some that rely on touch, such as BMW and Mercedes, didn’t fall for it.

The final test was seeing the driver completely get out of the driver’s seat but leaving the seatbelt in place.

Most vehicles allowed the driver to leave the seat without coming to a halt until it recognized that hands were not on the wheel and eventually not sensing a driver in the seat.

See the complete findings in Car and Driver’s new report.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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